After her husband (Oscar Isaac) barely returns alive from a secret expedition, biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) leads an anthropologist (Gina Rodriguez), a surveyor (Tessa Thompson), a linguist (Tuva Novotny), and a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) into a mysterious, expanding region called the Shimmer where evolution has taken a twisted turn. The all-female team must uncover the area’s monstrous secrets to save Lena’s husband and the world. Written and directed by Alex Garland. Based on the Nebula Award-winning novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, which is the first in a trilogy.~Kaitlin Elise Miller
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Rated 4 out of 5 stars
An Alien Mutation is Enveloping Louisiana
Owned for 1 month when reviewed.
A good movie, with a predominantly female cast inspecting an alien invasion of mutating life that was introduced by a pod into a lighthouse on the Louisiana coast. The main character, an army veteran biologist professor, gets 'enlisted' to inspect the "shimmering" event, with a potpourri of engaging female characters. No one has ever come back from the "shimmering", except for one person, dazed and confused and certain to die. But they were all men. The movie posits that all life - all life - came from one cell, which mutated and divided endlessly. So, what if another mutating cell/lifeform were introduced. What becomes of us? It's a good movie, well done, with a good ending.
This movie was amazing. Natalie Portman is awesome in everything, and that’s a given. But, this movie taps into a beautiful fantasy world you wish you were in, while at the same time making you feel horribly on edge the entire movie. The end was a little weird but all in all it made sense for the movie. I am actually kinda hoping for a second movie!
Alex Garland is one of the most exciting science fiction filmmakers working today. Look at his resume, he wrote 28 DAYS LATER, SUNSHINE, SUNSHINE, and DREDD. He made the jump to writer/director with the smart and chilling EX MACHINA. His latest effort pulling double duty, ANNIHILATION, is an ultimately humanistic look at the alien first contact and alien invasion genres. With top-notch performances, effects, and music, it’s a must see for fans of brainy sci fi.
Natalie Portman plays a damaged and lonely biology professor who’s also ex military. Her husband, played by Oscar Isaac in what amounts to an extended cameo, is a covert ops soldier that’s been missing in action for a year. When he appears back at their house out of the blue, it sets in motion a chain of events that will show us what happened to him and allow us insight into their relationship. See, a meteor crashed into a remote barren swamp, creating some sort of weird expanding field around the site from which no one has returned except him. To go into any more detail than that would be to ruin some of the pleasures the film has to offer. Based on the first novel of Jeff VanderMeer’s SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY, the mystery of what’s going on within “the Shimmer” is one of the key elements that helps give momentum to the somewhat languid pacing. Additionally, the surprising musical choices and flashbacks break the creeping tension of the events occurring within the bizarre landscape while providing humanity to the otherworldly tone. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson deliver strong supporting performances as members of the exploratory team. The special effects, ranging from subtle to exuberant, are excellent. Sound design, something that many audiences take for granted, is outstanding. At times flirting with body horror, the picture delivers some shocking imagery in spots.
Do you like smart sci fi? If so, don’t read anything about ANNIHILATION, just see it. The most immediate comparisons I can think of would be Denis Villeneuve’s ARRIVAL and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODDYSSEY in terms of tone and approach. Fair warning, the ending is very much open to interpretation. This isn’t a story that’s spoon fed to you. Though highly humanistic, it’s also very symbolic and introspective. Additionally, my favorite comic book writer Alan Moore is name checked in the special features. Keep an eye out and see if you can spot his influence on the picture. I watched this on 4K UHD and it looked and sounded excellent. I will continue to watch anything Alex Garland makes, as he is becoming a master of uncompromising and intellectual science fiction.